12-16-2015 05:57 PM
My name is Brad. I am seeking a career change. I have a B.S. in Mathematics Education and have worked for 2+ years in a public high school in Michigan. I have come to the conclussion that teaching is not something I want to do for the next 30 years. After interviewing with a local marketing company, the CEO said he felt that with my background in mathematics, stats, and basic programming (Java, HTML) knowledge I should look into SAS. He told me that if I learn SAS and get the BASE certification he would be able to find me a job. Apperently his prior work experience was heavily involved in data and analytics and he has many connections.
Regardless of the man's comments or connections, I'm wondering if his statement seems accurate? With my educational background, if I do in fact get SAS certified will that be enough to get my foot in the door somewhere, anywhere? I've been looking at job boards for something as basic as a data entry clerk to at least have something to add to my resume outside of teaching. Also on these job board, I'm yet to find any interships/co-ops in my state, and any SAS programming jobs that I do find seem to require 2-5 years of experience.
I've already began taking the online SAS courses and hope to be ready for the BASE exam by the end of March. I am a very quick and determined learner, who's not really interested in paying a university for something I can learn on my own, or adding to my student loan debt. So . . . What do you think? Should I continue on this path? I'm just worried about putting months of work and time toward attaining this certification only to find that it's not enough to get me a job.
Any information, comments, tips, would be greatly appreciated.
12-16-2015 06:21 PM
Don't look just for SAS Programming, look at analyst jobs or just about anything with "data" in the title or description. The skills will transfer.
SAS is a tool and knowledge of how to use a tool translates to different similar tools. Ispent nearly 6 years in a company that used SPSS based the skills I had acquired whill using SAS in another shop.
I had one 300 level analytics class that used SAS. The rest of the SAS-specific skills, except for a couple of job-sponsored training sessions, were OJT experience which is approaching 30 years. I did find that having some general programming training made use of a data step for reading and manipulating data easier as concepts of data type and attributes, array, parameters and program flow (Do loops and branches) were pretty helpful. SAS was the sixth programming language I used (counting about 8 flavors of BASIC as one).
If you haven't downloaded the SAS University Edition, unless you access to another installation, do it now.
12-16-2015 07:16 PM
The new(ish) free SAS University Edition software enables you to start learning about core parts of SAS Software, and as recommended by others posting on this thread, you should download it so you can get started with learning how to use SAS. Free online tutorials are also available from SAS Institute that address basic/core SAS programming topics, and SAS' publications arm (SAS Press) has released several books that are tailored to folks who want to use the UE to learn core SAS tools. SAS Institute and third-party vendors also offer online, as well as classroom based, instruction on a wide range of SAS Software capabilities. So, there are many ways to teach yourself and to learn from others about SAS tools.
Depending on where you live you may find an active local or regional SAS users group that holds periodic meetings. Attending them will give you some exposure not only to SAS Software itself, but others using it in the "real world" who can potentially help you find work in the field.
The issue of "SAS Certification" is often a controversial one in the SAS user community. I think it is a mistake to assume that if you pass one or more of SAS Institute's certification exams you will "get a job." Certification(s) may bolster your chance to compete for a job, but it will not guarantee you a new a job. There are a lot of people who are "SAS Certified" who cannot find jobs using the product and there are not a small number of people who have managed to pass the exams who cannot successfully apply SAS tools in the workplace, for a variety of reasons.
In my opinion, one of the major limitations of ANY multiple choice exam about ANY software product is that the test rewards rote memorization rather than how someone would conceptualize a solution to a problem. They also do not measure what I call "information seeking" skills, which are critical to success in apply SAS tools to data. Given some data and a problem to solve, how will you go about creating that solution? Are you able to look up, and then apply, in the SAS documentation manuals, online resources, user group proceedings, etc. what others have written about the problem on which you are working? Or, will you just sit at your computer and stare at the screen until someone else gives you the answer?
I would personally work with someone who is eager to "look it up," to try different ways to solve a problem, and to determine the optimal solution to that problem than someone who just "memorized the book."
Most employers will test your knowledge of SAS and of your information-seeking skills as part of the interview process. Certification in SAS is, in my view, a way to demonstrate to a potential employer that you may be suitable for the job at hand. But, you will only get that job if you can demonstrate both the technical and interpersonal skills needed at that workplace, neither of which come with "SAS Certified" credentials.
12-16-2015 08:26 PM
AHKarp thank you as well. And for the record, I agree 100% with your assessment of certifications and multiple choice tests. In fact I feel the same way about degrees from our overpriced overvalued universities. I do have the SAS University eddition and I use it to write code along with the lessons. I generally try to go past what they are talking about on a specific slide, applying the keywords and statements from previous slides to change and modify reports and whatnot. I'm planning on taking Census data and working with that to hopefully improve my SAS skills past strickly book knowledge.
Like I said in my initial post, I am a serious self learner. I enjoy figure things out on my own, and enjoy the research aspect of learning. I know that by the time I'm ready to take the test I will know and be able to apply what I have learned at a very high level. I'm obsesive when it comes to being prepared and gain a ton of confidence through learning and knowledge. But regardless of how solid my coding, problem solving and analytical skills are, I'll still only have teaching on my resume, and feel I will be overlooked. What else can I do to add experience to my resume so that I can at least attain interviewable skills?
Thanks a million.
Also, I did just join a local SAS group yesterday, but havent had a chance to look into that much yet.
12-16-2015 09:08 PM
@Bradley_Tucker , please email me directly at andrew (at) sierradatascience (dot) com .
Sierra Data Science
www (dot) SierraDataScience (dot) com
12-16-2015 08:12 PM
Hey thanks for the quick response. I have noticed that there are many analyst jobs, but most make use of a multitude of tools. Usually SAS is only one of the many requirements of any specific analyst job. I have indeed downloaded the University edition and am going through the lessons and quizzes. I usually write code along with the lesson instead of just staring at the powerpoint slides.
An analyst position seems to be something I would do well in, and from what I've read as long as you have a bachelor's degree along with a large technical skill set, you can find your way into the field of analytics, but the question I keep coming back to is how? How do I get my foot in the door?